The Anonymous Widower

Lützerath: German Coal Mine Stand Off Amid Ukraine War Energy Crunch

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on the BBC.

This is the sub-heading.

From her tiny wooden treehouse, which sways precariously in the winter wind, a young woman watches an enormous mechanical digger tear into the earth below, its jaws edging ever closer to the village which she’s determined to save.

And these two paragraphs outline the protest.

Lützerath, in western Germany, is on the verge – literally – of being swallowed up by the massive coal mine on its doorstep.

Around 200 climate change activists, who are now all that stand in the way of the diggers expanding the Garzweiler opencast mine, have been warned that if they don’t leave by Tuesday they’ll be forcibly evicted.

But this is not about coal or bituminous coal, as we know it in the UK, this mine will produce lignite or brown coal.

Read both Wikipedia entries linked to the previous sentence and you find some choice phrases.

For bituminous coal.

  • Within the coal mining industry, this type of coal is known for releasing the largest amounts of firedamp, a dangerous mixture of gases that can cause underground explosions.
  • Extraction of bituminous coal demands the highest safety procedures involving attentive gas monitoring, good ventilation and vigilant site management.
  • The leading producer is China, with India and the United States a distant second and third.

For lignite.

  • It has a carbon content around 25–35%. and is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content.
  • When removed from the ground, it contains a very high amount of moisture which partially explains its low carbon content.
  • The combustion of lignite produces less heat for the amount of carbon dioxide and sulfur released than other ranks of coal. As a result, environmental advocates have characterized lignite as the most harmful coal to human health.
  • Depending on the source, various toxic heavy metals, including naturally occurring radioactive materials may be present in lignite which are left over in the coal fly ash produced from its combustion, further increasing health risks.
  • Lignite’s high moisture content and susceptibility to spontaneous combustion can cause problems in transportation and storage.

I don’t think, that we’ve ever burned lignite in the UK for electricity, as it is just too filthy.

This map shows the mine.

Note.

  1. The autobahn at the West of the map, is a six-land highway, so gives an idea of the scale.
  2. The village of Lützerath is towards the bottom of the map in the middle.
  3. What has been left after the mining, is going to take a lot of restoration.

It almost appears that some of the scenes of devastation, we are seeing in the Ukraine are also happening in Germany due to the frantic search for energy.

A 1960s-Educated Engineer’s Attitude To Coal

I was one of about four-hundred engineers in my year at Liverpool University in the 1960s.

  • Quite a few of those engineers were from coal-mining areas and some were children of miners.
  • I remember the graduate recruitment fair at the University in 1968, where the representative from the National Coal Board sat there alone, as if he’d got the 1960s version of Covid-19.
  • Some went and talked to him, as they felt sorry for him.
  • As far as I know, not one of us, went to work for the National Coal Board.

Engineers and other graduates of the 1960s, didn’t feel that coal was the future.

Had Aberfan and the other pit disasters of the era killed coal as a career, amongst my generation of the UK population?

What Should The Germans Do?

It is my view that whatever the Germans do, burning brown coal, should not be on the list. It’s just too polluting.

This article on euronews is entitled Germany And Poland Have A Dirty Big Secret – An Addiction To Brown Coal.

A few years ago, I was in Katowice on Poland and I have never seen such pollution in Europe, since the smogs of the 1950s.

The euronews article says this.

In eastern Germany some members of a little-known group claim they are being ethnically cleansed, not by militia groups, but by the coal mining industry.

Bulldozers have so far destroyed over 130 Sorb villages to make way for the mining of Europe’s dirtiest kind of fossil fuel – brown coal, or lignite as it is also known.

Brown coal mines are open cast and devour vast tracts of land. As well as whole villages farming and wildlife are destroyed.

The Penk family live in the village of Rohne. They feel their whole culture is also being destroyed.

Note that the Sorbs have a Wikipedia entry, which says there are 60,000 Sorbs in Germany.

One thing the Germans are doing is investing in the UK renewable energy industry.

  • RWE own or part-own over 7 GW of offshore wind farms in the UK, some of which are under development.
  • enBW and BP are developing 3 GW of offshore wind farms in the UK.
  • Over twenty offshore wind farms use Siemens Gamesa turbines.
  • The NeuConnect interconnector is being built between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven.

Would it not be better for the physical and mental health of German citizens, if they abandoned their dirty love of brown coal and spent the money in the North Sea?

January 10, 2023 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Morecambe Offshore Windfarm

I found this article on beyondradio, which is entitled Plans Unveiled To Build New Offshore Windfarms Off Morecambe Bay.

These care the first two paragraphs.

Plans are being developed to build new offshore windfarms off the Morecambe Bay coast.

Proposals have been unveiled for ‘Morecambe’ and ‘Morgan’, two new offshore wind farms being developed in the Irish Sea.

I’ve discussed Morgan and its sister; Mona before in Mona, Morgan And Morven, which describes the three projects BP are developing in a joint venture with enBW.

I haven’t come across the Morecambe Offshore Windfarm before and it has its own web site.

It has this summary of the wind farm.

Renewable energy is central to supporting the UK’s ambitions to lead the world in combatting climate change, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and embracing a future where renewable energy powers our homes and businesses.

Morecambe Offshore Windfarm which has a nominal capacity of 480MW. That’s enough to power over half a million households. It will also contribute to the UK Government’s commitment to:

  • Generate 50GW of power from offshore wind by 2030
  • Reach net zero by 2050.

It is located approximately 30km from the Lancashire coast.

This EnBW-BP infographic describes the Morgan and Mona projects.

it appears that the proposed Morecambe Offshore Windfarm will fit in the notch on the Eastern side of EnBW-BP’s two wind farms; Mona and Morgan.

  • All three wind farms are fixed foundation wind farms.
  • They have a total output of just under 3.5 GW.
  • Could they share infrastructure like cables and substations?
  • Heysham 1 is a 485 MW nuclear station, that will be decommissioned in 2024.
  • Heysham 2 is a 1815 MW nuclear station, that will be decommissioned in 2028.
  • What’s left of the two Heysham nuclear stations can probably generate 2.3 GW

Could it be that over 2.3 GW of wind power is being planned in the Irish Sea to make up for the loss of the four reactors at Heysham?

Could also the 480 MW Morecambe Bay wind farm be replacing what’s left of Heysham 1?

There would probably need to be a battery at Heysham, but it looks like the wind farms could be replacing the Heysham nuclear power station!

There will be consultation with the locals about the Morecambe ans Morgan wind farms, which will take place on Saturday, November 19, 2.30pm – 6.30pm, at Morecambe War Memorial Hall on Church Street.

I think, I might go!

November 4, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The First Of The Cavalry Arrive To Rescue Kwasi Kwarteng

Most commentators think Kwasi Kwarteng is in trouble, but I feel that he has the strength of the mathematics around him.

This press release from BP was released on Wednesday and is entitled UK Offshore Wind: Laying The Groundwork Today.

These two paragraphs outline the work BP are doing to develop wind power in the Irish Sea.

Plans are critical, but it’s putting them into action that counts. As part of our strategy to get wind turbines turning, specialist vessels and crew are out on the Irish Sea undertaking massive seabed survey work. It’s an early but important step on the road to building some of the UK’s biggest offshore wind farms.

 

Once up and running, our Morgan and Mona projects could deliver enough capacity to power 3.4 million homes with clean electricity and help the UK to meet its climate goals. Their near-shore location – around 30 kilometres off the coast of northwest England and north Wales – will allow for lower-cost, more reliable transmission infrastructure, making them a core part of our plans for more secure and lower carbon energy for the UK.

This EnBW-BP infographic describes the project.

 

Note.

  1. BP’s partner is EnBW, who are a publicly-traded German energy company.
  2. There is a project web site.
  3. The press release and the graphic are showing the same numbers.
  4. Morgan and Mona will use proven fixed-foundation wind turbine technology.
  5. The combined site is around 800 km² or a square of under thirty kilometers, so it is only quite small in the context of the Irish Sea.
  6. First operation is given on the web site as 2028.

As BP and enBW have massive financial, engineering and project management resources, I believe they will look to bring the 2028 operation date as far forward as is possible.

If you do the cash flow for a project like this, especially when you have the financial and engineering resources of BP and enBW, the mathematics show that if you can accelerate the installation of the turbines, you will start to have a cashflow earlier and this will finance the debt needed to install the wind farms.

Consider.

  • I believe the 2028 date, is one that BP know they can keep, to satisfy the Stock Market and investors.
  • BP have large cash flows from their profitable oil and gas businesses.
  • BP have probably reserved places in the manufacturing queues for wind turbines, foundations and all the electrical gubbins to connect the turbines to shore.
  • BP want to prove to themselves and sceptics, that they can handle the building of wind farms.
  • The are already lots of wind farms along the North Wales Coast, so I suspect that the problems of building wind farms in the Irish Sea are well known.

I will not speculate on the date that Mona and Morgan are complete, but I very much doubt it will be in 2028.

These are some more thoughts from the BP press release.

What’s Happening And Why?

The purpose of these deep geotechnical investigations, carried out by specialist Geo-data company Fugro, up to 100 metres below the seabed is to determine soil characteristics for foundation design (find out how it’s done in the short film, above). Collecting this data will enable bp and EnBW to build efficient offshore wind farms with the least environmental impact. It is crucial for securing government consents for the projects and defining the structure and location of the individual turbines.

Even thirty kilometres off shore, there needs to be detailed planning permission.

Our Other Offshore Wind Projects

We aim to become a leader in offshore wind and, over the past three years, we’ve built up a pipeline of projects with partners in both the US and UK that have the potential to power more than 5 million homes.

And earlier this year, we agreed to form a partnership with Marubeni to explore an offshore wind development in Japan.

It’s all part of our aim to have 20GW of developed renewable generating capacity by 2025 and 50GW by 2030 – that’s broadly enough to power the needs of 36 million people.

Note.

  1. Their ambitions are high, but then so much of the experience of offshore oil and gas can be applied to offshore wind.
  2. BP has the cashflow from oil and gas to reinvent itself.
  3. Assuming a strike price of £40/MWh and an average capacity factor of 30 %, that is an income of around five billion pounds for starters.
  4. If they added energy storage to the wind farms, there’s even more money to be generated.

As Equinor, Ørsted and SSE have shown, you have to be big in this business and BP aim to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest.

Conclusion

Wind farms like Mona and Morgan, and there are several under development, will create the electricity and revenue, that will come to the rescue of the Chancellor.

As I update this after a busy day, it looks like Jeremy Hunt has inherited KK’s excellent groundwork and mathematics.

 

October 14, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mona, Morgan And Morven

The title of this post, may sound like a high-class firm of Welsh solicitors, but it is actually the names of three wind farms to be constructed by BP Alternative Energy Investments Ltd and Energie Baden-Württemberg AG.

Mona And Morgan

This EnBW-BP infographic describes the project.

 

Mona and Morgan do seem to have web page, which gives a simple map and a rather jargon-filled timeline.

Morven

This EnBW-BP infographic describes the project.

Morven does seem to have a web page, which gives a simple map and this statement.

The Morven wind farm is named after a mountain situated in the beautiful hills of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The name derives from the Scottish Gaelic terms “Mhor” and “bheinn” meaning ‘big’ and ‘peak’, symbolic of the scale of opportunity represented by bp’s latest offshore wind project.

This article on Offshore Engineer is entitled ScotWind: BP, EnBW Win Bid to Build 2.9GW Morven Offshore Wind Farm.

This paragraph described the Morven wind farm.

The approximately 860km2 lease is located around 60km off the coast of Aberdeen. The E1 lease is in an advantaged area, allowing the partners to develop it as a fixed-bottom offshore wind project with a total generating capacity of around 2.9 gigawatts (GW), sufficient to power more than three million homes.

And this paragraph, described what BP will do with the energy.

“Along with the offshore wind development, these investments include significant expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Scotland and green hydrogen production. Together, these represent up to £10 billion of investment in support of offshore wind and Scotland’s energy transition,” BP added.

These are two large projects, but so far there is little else on the Internet, except for this press release.

Conclusion

Wind farms can be controversial and for this and other reasons, the general public need more information.

BP and EnBW can do much better.

March 24, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | 6 Comments